Jester Poker Video Poker Basic Strategy
Jester Poker video poker is a fairly unique game that includes a single wild and a very atypical pay table. There is no other game quite like it, so the strategies involved are pretty different and require specific things to be learned that do not necessarily carry over from other styles of play.
Introduction to Jester Poker Strategy
The wide range of video poker titles includes all kinds of games, but most of them have certain strategic fundamentals that more or less carry over between virtually all games in the genre. However, there are some outliers that play much differently than what you might be used to.
Jester Poker is one of those outliers, and as a result, the strategies used in this game are pretty title-specific and don’t really carry over that much from other games.
In fact, the pay table is so atypical that it’s hard to even reference other titles that much because, while there may be strategic similarities in certain specific situations, there are no games that are comparable from a “big picture” point of view.
What’s interesting from that standpoint is that this isn’t a game that’s all that rare, so learning Jester Poker video poker strategy can be a viable option since it’s a title available at a wide range of online casinos.
Payouts and Fundamental Ideas
Here we’re going to break down the things that you need to know about the rules that are worth noting. There are some major differences when compared to other styles of video poker, so it’s more important to pay attention to this information than you might otherwise think.
The basic rules of this game are really simple, but there are some differences from other types of video poker machines. This game is played with a 53-card deck, and it includes one wild. In this game, the wild is called the jester, but it helps you to get the best five-card hand that it can regardless of what it’s called.
One key difference in the rule set is that there is no penalty for playing with fewer than five coins. All payouts scale up proportionately, so you get to choose to play with however many coins you want.
Another difference to note is that the game does not make strategy suggestions like what you might find in certain other titles. That means you have nothing to rely on when you get into tricky hands, and as a result, you’ll need to be more confident in your skill set before you sit down to play.
Pay Table Differences
The pay table is so different than it seriously affects strategy when compared to anything else. The closest thing to it would be the rare two pair version of Joker Poker, but even that is not a valid comparison considering the atypical way the pays are structured.
Here we’ll list the given hands with their payouts from the highest-ranked payout to the lowest and not necessarily in the order of traditional poker hand strength:
- Five of a Kind (800x) – Four cards of the same rank plus the jester.
- Any Royal or Straight Flush (100x)* – Five cards of the same suit and consecutive rank.
- Four of a Kind (16x) – Four cards of the same rank.
- Full House (8x) – Three cards of a matching rank along with two other cards of a different matching rank.
- Flush (5x) – Five cards that show the same suit regardless of rank.
- Straight (4x) – Five cards of consecutive rank regardless of suit.
- Three of a Kind (2x) – Three cards of matching rank.
- Two Pair (1x) – Two cards of matching rank with two more cards of a different matching rank.
* This includes both wild and natural royal flush hands as well as any straight flush.
There are a few things that stand out immediately. First, the five of a kind payout is 800x, which is usually reserved for a natural royal flush. Second, the same payout is used for natural and wild royal flush hands as well as a straight flush, which is something you’re pretty much never going to see anywhere else.
At the lower end of the pay table, there are no one pair hands that give a payout, and it’s not hard to see why that’s so important to know from a strategic perspective.
The Principles of Jester Poker Strategy
In what follows, we’re going to break down the basic principles of how you should be playing this game to maximize your payouts. We’re going to break things up into a few different types of scenarios, but everything is based on the same premise:
You’re trying to figure out which combination of discards (including standing pat) will give you the best average payout.
If you ever find yourself not knowing what to do in this game, then the above axiom is your guiding idea. With that said, let’s hop into how to actually play the game.
Within the realm of Jester Poker video poker strategy, a major draw is any four cards to a straight flush or a royal flush, and that includes situations where you have a wild card included in your hand. The things to know for playing major draws is as follows:
- Always break up any hand that’s lower than a straight flush to go with a major draw.
- That includes pairs, straights and flushes.
- That includes hands with or without a wild jester.
- It’s critical to note that there are no exceptions to this rule.
Because of the absolute nature of playing these hands, and due to the fact that you don’t have to differentiate between payouts that do or do not include the wild jester, playing major draws is actually a fairly easy thing to learn to do. They aren’t the most common situation, but when you run into them, you’ll know how to play them.
Mid-tier Hands (No Wilds Included)
Other types of draws, when added to pairs, make up a range of mid-tier hands. The basically fall into a hierarchy of which hands are worth more than others, and you use that hierarchy to figure out how to play your hands when you have a situation with more than one reasonably good way to play is available.
In order of strength, starting with the strongest, we have the following:
- Three of a kind
- Four to a flush
- Four to a straight
- Two pair
- Three-card straight flush draw*
- One pair
* For these three-card straight flush draws, you need to have three cards with fewer than one gap between them, and this does not include the A-2-3 or A-K-Q combinations.
This part of the overall strategy is a little harder to learn because so much of it is different than what you find in other types of hands. It’s based around the fact that certain draws as well as pairs have their values adjusted compared to what you normally see in similar pay tables, so we have to adjust along these same lines here.
The main feature of this part of the strategy as a whole is the placement of the three-card straight draws and the fact that you have to learn to differentiate between the types of these draws when comparing them to one pair hands. It’s not that it’s difficult because pretty much anyone could learn them inside of a short period of time with a little practice, but it’s more of an issue when you’re trying to pick them out in hands and recognize them as you’re actually in the middle of playing.
Miscellaneous Jester Spots
There are a variety of other miscellaneous spots that are atypical and worth pointing out, and one of those is when you’re dealing with a jester in your hand but no other pairs or obvious draws.
The thing about it is that these situations are really common and put players in a position where they have nothing to base their decisions on because there’s no other game that creates situations quite like this.
First off, the most valuable pairing you can have is a jester with two suited cards that have three or fewer gaps between them. What we mean by gaps is the number of spots between those two non-wild cards. For example, there is no gap between 5-6, a gap of one between 5-7, a gap of two between 5-8 and a gap of three between 5-9.
A jester combined with two cards of the same suit with a gap of three or less is a fairly strong hand that actually averages winning a profit on your original wager.
Along these lines, that’s the first thing you should look for with these types of “high card” hands when a jester is present.
Absent that, you should next look at situations where you will pair the jester up with one other card. Three-card draws to straights or flushes (as opposed to straight flushes or royal flushes) should be ignored.
Generally speaking, you’ll have four options as to which card you should pair with a jester. You should choose this card based on two criteria:
- Do not select a card to pair it with that is higher than a ten or lower than a five.
- Disqualify cards that have another card of a matching suit.
For example, if you have the cards As, 9s, 8d, 3c with a jester, you’ll use the first rule here to disqualify the ace and the three. The ace and the nine are also disqualified with the second rule because they share suits (which makes getting flushes more difficult when you discard three). That leaves the 8 of diamonds, which is the card you should pair up with the jester.
Miscellaneous Non-wild Spots
Another difficult spot to play is when you have high-card hands that do not have a jester. These are tough because you usually play them based on high card value, but high cards don’t have any special value in this game on any level whatsoever, so you’re left without anything to really go on.
Since most cards are worth about the same in this game on an individual basis, you have to use the smallest differences to learn how to make the right play.
This is by far the hardest part about Jester Poker strategy, but we can simplify things down to the following procedure. Using this listing of types of hands you can play, starting with the strongest, pick the best option you have, and hope for the best:
- Two to a straight flush with a gap of 2 or less where both cards are 5-10
- Two to a straight flush with a gap of 2 or less where both cards are less than 6 or higher than 9
- One card from five to ten (inclusive) that does not have a card of the same suit being discarded
- Two to a straight flush with a gap of 3 where both cards are 5-10
- Discard all five cards
It’s really tricky and anti-intuitive to learn this part of the overall strategy. Moreover, you’re dealing with really small differences in your average result here as well when it comes to most hands. For example, the value difference between a 2-5 suited pairing and just keeping the 5 and discarding four cards is only about 3 percent of your bet.
However, these small edges add up over time, and that’s what we want to show you how to accumulate since it makes a big difference in your bottom line over the long run.
It’s not easy to learn strategy for Jester Poker video poker on a high level because it’s so different than just about anything else that you can find. However, it does offer a very serious challenge for people who like something different, and that’s where a lot of its value lies in terms of studying and learning the game.